Blender. Full 3D package, including animation.
I'm looking for a 3d animation tool for making some simple character animations/rigs myself and tweaking existing animations/rigs created by an animator. I'm looking for a tool under $1k, so I can count out the entire Autodesk product line. Can anyone doing 3d character rigging/animations recommend a good animation tool in that price range?
I've created a few animations myself, but nothing very impressive. I've only used simple skeletal setups to do stuff like a walking/running, attacking, etc. I'm not the best person to ask about animation though but from what i've seen from others doing, its very capable.
Of course its not a single-click process, but i don't know anything like that :-)
I find blender quite unintuitive and clumsy though compared to other tools I have used. v2.5 interface has a face lift, but IMHO it's not really up to par with pro tools. Can anyone with rigging/animation experience recommend better tool to check out?
Haha, Adobe is more.. umm.. subtle? After you register your product (retail even, you are registered offline for life.. FOR LIFE!) they keep sending you random offers or you keep getting some "client" calls every now and then asking about which software you use for the job.
Now even after paying the customer is a suspect/thief. Like in gaming publishers like UBI and EA have labeled PC gamers as thieves.
I'll agree with unintuitive but thats only because it doesn't follow most established UI paradigms. Once you learn its UI though, everything will fall in place because the UI is designed to work the same way everywhere (i should note that what i know about animation in Blender i figured out myself just by knowing how to use the mesh modeling tools). Not sure what you mean about clumsy.
Anyway, i doubt you'll need something that cannot be done with Blender. You need time to learn it though. But any serious tool will have this. The only real alternative is to pay an animator do the job for you.
Unfortunately there isn't a magic program that converts people's ideas to actual software or assets just by reading their minds :-).
I haven't heard a peep from either Adobe or Autodesk. But, big company whining aside...
I think the bigger problem you're going to have is not being a pro rigger or animator. No program, no matter how simple, is going to make your task an easy one. With that in mind though, my first question would be- what format are your existing models in, and what will you be exporting things to? Blender may be a bit clunky, but it supports a lot more than some cheaper programs, making it worth learning.I find blender quite unintuitive and clumsy though compared to other tools I have used. v2.5 interface has a face lift, but IMHO it's not really up to par with pro tools. Can anyone with rigging/animation experience recommend better tool to check out?
Lightwave fits the bill. Professional grade package with a decent set of manuals for $995. You can go for the PDF manuals at $895.
It's been used in such films as Iron Man, Dark Knight, Pirates of the Carribean, 300, Pan's Labyrinth, Spider Man.
Gamewise it's been used in Burnout 3, Halo, Doom 3 amongst others.
It has a plugin format, an SDK, and the animation format is just a straight text file so pretty easy to parse.
I'm no artist, but I find Blender a great deal less intuitive to use than programs like Lightwave and Softimage XSI Foundation, both of which I purchased some time ago.
I think Lightwave is rather out of date compared to other commercial software, though a newer and supposedly better version has been in the works for some time. As for XSI, it's really an excellent product but unfortunately it's been acquired by Autodesk (which has license terms I cannot agree to in all good conscience) and there's no sub-$1k version available anymore.
Other commercial tools currently available for less than $1,000 are Cinema 4D ($995 in the US for the Core edition) and Modo ($895, but unfortunately it does not include any bones/skinning capability). There may be others, but those are the ones I've heard about (but have never used).
Yeah, Lightwave Core is the next version. If you purchase Lightwave 9.6 you get access to Core for a year I think.
For under $1000 I think LW is excellent value.
Milkshape is inexpensive and very simple, and I find it quite straightforward to use - but I have no idea if it's got the full range of features that you would need.
Thanks for the suggestions, I'll have a look at LW & Cinema 4D. XSI would be great but it's way above my price range. Do you know if Poser or DAZ3D is of any use?
I have been using modo nowdays, which actually supports skinning & bones, but the problem is that it's supported only for their lxo format, which renders modo animation pipeline pretty much useless for me. I would like that animators would be able to work in MotionBuilder/Max/XSI/etc. and export to fbx/collada/etc. to be imported to what ever tool I use, from where I could export to collada (ideally) or some other open format supporting skinning & anims.
If I was working on zero budget Blender would probably be the best choice, but since I got small budget to invest on tools I may be able to spare some sweat and tears ;)
I feel like a salesman for Lightwave but I think in the new Lightwave Core it actually uses Collada for it's primary format.
Note the bold :D I know some people can be anti-Blender, but I'm not (I'm not an artist, anyway LOL). My main concerns are making sure we support the art packages the artists want to use, and have a solid path from art tool to runtime format.Originally Posted by vjvj
I will say with Lightwave, it's a very good package for it's price, but there's fewer LW artists out there than something like Max. Something to consider if you're thinking of outsourcing work.
Messiah looks like it might be a good choice for character animation, and combined with something like Modo for modeling it might perhaps make a powerful combo. Modo has its roots in Lightwave Modeler and is reportedly very powerful, but despite JarkkoL's statement to the contrary I still believe it has no official support for skinning with bones, though apparently there is a workaround for it.
I forgot to add...
I don't know how the newer versions of Poser are, but the version I have (which was before it went content crazy) has it uses. The built-in walk designer is very good if you can use bvh motion files. Carrara might be worth a look, but I seriously doubt it could touch Messiah for animation. All Daz3D products are geared towards club-like content gathering, which can be a negative if all you want is a tool.Do you know if Poser or DAZ3D is of any use?
You'll find there will always be compatibility issues with that kind of pipeline because fbx is a continually developing format. That said, if you hit troubles, Autodesk have a free fbx converter which works wonders. It does a great job of spitting out collada files from fbx too, where some 3D suites botch the job.I would like that animators would be able to work in MotionBuilder/Max/XSI/etc. and export to fbx/collada/etc. to be imported to what ever tool I use, from where I could export to collada (ideally) or some other open format supporting skinning & anims.
I always found Modo to be quite buggy. I wouldn't try anything with it that hasn't been fully developed, or is a workaround. That's just asking for pain.Modo has its roots in Lightwave Modeler and is reportedly very powerful, but despite JarkkoL's statement to the contrary I still believe it has no official support for skinning with bones, though apparently there is a workaround for it.
Truespace used to be a middle of the road tool (~$500.00USD) To compete with Google Sketchup, Microsoft purchased the license to Truespace and is now giving it away for free.
The good thing is all the tutorials and training materials are free also. IMHO Truespace had a really quarky interface and took a bit to get use to. However it is a good tool and it also has a game specific tool called GameSpace.
Stanley D. Chatman
Golden Doodle Games
I haven't used Autodesk's standalone converter, but the FBX library from Autodesk that Unity relies on absolutely sucks at handling COLLADA files (or at least those generated by XSI Foundation, which I'm fairly certain are valid as I've been able to parse them myself in my own software). I'm sure the issues are due in part to the nightmare that is loading COLLADA files (it seems there's a million different ways to describe the same content), but it's still a problem that I think could be resolved if Unity's developers were to write their own COLLADA loader instead of relying on Autodesk's subpar loader.
Yeah. I've never used Modo so I'll take your word about its lack of stability, but I certainly wouldn't want to rely on workarounds such as the one I linked to in my post.I always found Modo to be quite buggy. I wouldn't try anything with it that hasn't been fully developed, or is a workaround. That's just asking for pain.
That all said though of course, I do wonder if Autodesk is eventually going to pick one interchange format to support while ditching the others...
As for usage, here in the states I'd estimate that about 90% of studios use Maya. Something to consider if you hire an American artist! :)
Well, IME Maya is quite rare. At Activision, Ubisoft and Codemasters we used Max. I think I saw only one guy using Maya because he was stubborn to use the same tool everyone else did ;) Anyway, it doesn't matter really since both are Autodesk tools.
I have a (non transferable due to an insanely good deal I got) XSI license I've almost never used. When Autodesk bought Softimage, my interest in using it went to zero.
Blender has a learning curve, but so does every piece of 3D software. I'm very happy with it myself, though I haven't animated with it yet. IMO, that's what the new layout does really well with Blender, puts your timeline and keyframe information in a good place (similar to 2D animation packages).
The only other 3D software that's caught my interest is Google Sketchup, since it's ridiculously easy to use, though I don't think it animates.
I can't comment on that, but the free standalone has always worked well for me. I'm using XSI 7.01 (the final XSI before it became Autodesk's Softimage) and exporting things from Crosswalk has always been a bit hit and miss, so that's mostly why I'm willing to forgive the Evil Empire of AD and use it ;)...which I'm fairly certain are valid as I've been able to parse them myself in my own software).
Blender has now far surpassed Truespace. Once upon a time I used it a lot, but it's faaaar to slow to use.However it is a good tool and it also has a game specific tool called GameSpace.
Heh, sounds like my copy of Motionbuilder. It's a restricted version that can't be upgraded or transfered, but it has since been discontinued (meaning that version can't be upgraded) it really doesn't make any difference. A real bargain :)I have a (non transferable due to an insanely good deal I got) XSI license I've almost never used. When Autodesk bought Softimage, my interest in using it went to zero.
As for XSI, if it's a non-Foundation version, it's worth having around. There's a lot of neat stuff packed into XSI.